With NFL owners and players once again negotiating a deal to end the lockout, it seems fairly safe to say there will be football this upcoming season.
The rookies have been affected by the lockout the most. With the lockout in place, they haven’t signed contracts or attended organized team activities (OTAs), and many of them don’t have playbooks. The lockout will make it harder for rookies to make an impact.
With that being said, rookies will still be expected to make contributions to their teams no matter their role. Here are the roles the Oakland Raiders’ rookies will fill.
Stefen Wisniewski, OL, Penn State: Round 2, Pick 16 (48th overall)
Wisniewski is a versatile lineman who played both guard and center at Penn State. The Raiders drafted Wisniewski to play center. Raiders coach Hue Jackson already named Wisniewski the starting center, replacing Samson Satele at the position.
Demarcus Van Dyke, DB, Miami (Fla.): Round 3, Pick 17 (81st overall)
Van Dyke could play a huge role this season. The Raiders are expected to lose one of the game's top cornerbacks, Nnamdi Asomugha, to free agency. This loss leaves a huge hole in the secondary.
Van Dyke could play himself into the third cornerback position in Oakland. The Raiders primarily play man-to-man in the secondary which is what Van Dyke mostly played at Miami. Look for Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson to start at corner with Van Dyke getting playing significant time in the nickel and dime packages.
Joseph Barksdale, OL, LSU: Round 3, Pick 28 (92nd overall)
Barksdale played both tackle positions at LSU but mostly played on the right side. Like Wisniewski, he gives the Raiders more depth on the offensive line. Barksdale will push Mario Henderson for the starting job at right tackle. The longer the lockout lasts, however, the harder it’ll be for Barksdale to win the job.
Chimdi Chekwa, DB, Ohio State: Round 4, Pick 16 (113th overall)
Like Van Dyke, Chekwa has a good chance to get plenty of playing time with the departure of Asomugha. Chekwa also will get time in nickel and dime packages.
Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington: Round 4, Pick 28 (125th overall)
Adding Jones was a luxury for the Raiders. Oakland had the second-best rushing game in the NFL last season with 155.9 yards per game. Running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush will see the majority of the carries.
Jones has incredible speed, being clocked between 4.27 and 4.35 in the 40. He also has receiving and return skills. Expect the Raiders to showcase Jones in third-down situations as a change-of-pace back and as a returner. He will pretty much be the Oakland version of Darren Sproles.
Denarius Moore, WR, Tennessee: Round 5, Pick 17 (148th overall)
Moore has one of the most uncertain roles on this list. Moore will have Jacoby Ford, Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy and Darius Heyward-Bey ahead of him when the season begins. Ford and Murphy played the best last season.
Luckily for Moore, Schilens has a hard time staying healthy, and Heyward-Bey is inconsistent. Moore could land anywhere from the third wide receiver to the practice squad. It will depend on how well he can impress when he gets the chance.
Richard Gordon, TE, Miami (Fla.): Round 6, Pick 16 (181st overall)
Don’t look for Gordon to eat into any of starting tight end Zach Miller’s numbers. Gordon only caught 10 passes for 62 yards while at Miami. He will mainly be used as a blocking tight end in jumbo packages and goal-line situations.
David Ausberry, WR/TE, USC: Round 7, Pick 38 (241st overall)
Ausberry is the biggest wide receiver on Oakland’s roster. He stands 6’4” and weighs 245 pounds. Ausberry is versatile since he played both wide receiver and tight end at USC. He has a better chance of making the roster as a tight end.
Ausberry will probably start the season on the practice squad but don’t be surprised to see him in games this season, especially if the Oakland receiving unit isn’t playing up to par. Look to see Ausberry as a big target over the middle and in two-tight-end sets with Zach Miller.
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